The Vulture and the Volcano by Brian Bartlett

Poem name: The Vulture and the Volcano Poet name: Brian Bartlett Poem begins: 						Monteverde, Costa Rica   A distant silhouette curves downward into tall grass, abstraction turning into  feathers and flesh. Bald, black head and neck—  corrugations like external intestines    or laval folds, featherless to keep from trapping the juices of the picked-at dead.   Imagination shakes: aeons ago a flamboyantly top-knotted bird saved its nestlings  near an exploding volcano, but roasted itself from the shoulders up, and forever since  Black Vultures’ faces, heads and necks have suggested charring, some injustice  brought upon the bird. If faithfulness  and courage scar you, thinks a visitor   from north of the equator, does remembering the rescued nestlings  beautify the face’s unbeautiful flesh? And do most myths evolve as slowly  as a growing mountain or a gathering stream, while others dawn on a lucky mind  within moments? My eyes meet  the vulture’s eyes, travel deeper into   an ancient event to be told and retold— then the wings lift their living body  far from the carrion and the storymaker.  End of poem.  Credits: Copyright © Brian Bartlett Brian Bartlett has published 7 collections and 8 chapbooks of poetry, including The Watchmaker’s Table, The Afterlife of Trees and Granite Erratics, as well as a book of prose on poetry, All Manner of Tackle: Living with Poetry, and three books of nature writing, most recently Daystart Songflight: A Morning Journal. Bartlett has also edited several selections of work by other poets, such as Don Domanski and James Reaney, along with Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan.